Hear First 12 Songs Of 1985 Leonard Cohen Warsaw Concert

Jo Muel alerts us to this audio-only video of the March 22, 1985 Leonard Cohen show at Sala Kongresowa, Warsaw. This is an audience recording by Artur Jarosinski. Avalanche & Chelsea Hotel #2 are standout performances,


Continue Reading →

Video: Leonard Cohen Performs The Partisan – Warsaw 1985 + The Origins Of The Partisan


The Partisan and Leonard Cohen

The Partisan, a song from the French Resistance written by Anna Marly and Emmanuel d’Astier in 1943,1 has been and continues to be one of Leonard Cohen’s most popular songs, especially in French-speaking countries and in Poland.

Rock History 101: Leonard Cohen – “The Partisan” by Tim Nordberg (Consequence of Sound: January 14, 2009) is an excellent (albeit not error free; be sure to read the comments) account of the history and implications of Leonard Cohen’s adoption and adaptation of The Partisan. I’ve excerpted portions here but perusing the entire piece is highly recommended.

At the urgings of General Charles De Gaulle, broadcast on BBC radio, thousands of French men and women took to the hills, and heroically defied the Nazi occupation in the north and the puppet government instituted at Vichy. By the time the allies had landed at Normandy, the French Resistance had organized an irregular fighting force of over 100,000.

… Their struggle against the occupying forces was historically recorded in two surviving historical songs: “Chante des partisans” and “La complainte du partisan.” Cohen had heard the latter on Canadian BBC radio – although in translation. … Cohen then recorded the song for 1969’s Songs From a Room. He is often incorrectly credited as the composer of the song – although he is certainly responsible for its survival.

Cohen’s version downplays the song’s historical content – the English lyrics contain no references to France or the Nazi occupation, but when Cohen swings through the song a second time, in the original French, the first line is: “Les Allemands etaient chez moi”/”The Germans were at my house.”

“The Partisan,” in any language, reminds the listener of a simpler time–despite the song’s calm despair, there’s a Spielsbergian sense of right and wrong, good guys and bad guys, native and invader.


When they poured across the border
I was cautioned to surrender,
this I could not do;
I took my gun and vanished.
I have changed my name so often,
I’ve lost my wife and children
but I have many friends,
and some of them are with me.

An old woman gave us shelter,
kept us hidden in the garret,
then the soldiers came;
she died without a whisper.

There were three of us this morning
I’m the only one this evening
but I must go on;
the frontiers are my prison.

Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
through the graves the wind is blowing,
freedom soon will come;
then we’ll come from the shadows.

Les Allemands e’taient chez moi, (The Germans were at my home)
ils me dirent, “Signe toi,” (They said, “Sign yourself,”)
mais je n’ai pas peur; (But I am not afraid)
j’ai repris mon arme. (I have retaken my weapon.)

J’ai change’ cent fois de nom, (I have changed names a hundred times)
j’ai perdu femme et enfants (I have lost wife and children)
mais j’ai tant d’amis; (But I have so many friends)
j’ai la France entie`re. (I have all of France)

Un vieil homme dans un grenier (An old man, in an attic)
pour la nuit nous a cache’, (Hid us for the night)
les Allemands l’ont pris; (The Germans captured him)
il est mort sans surprise. (He died without surprise.)

Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
through the graves the wind is blowing,
freedom soon will come;
then we’ll come from the shadows.

The Video

This video is from a NBC film of a March 22, 1985 Leonard Cohen performance in Warsaw.2

Leonard Cohen – The Partisan
Warsaw: March 22, 1985
Video from messalina79

Note: Originally posted Jan 11, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. There is some confusion about the proper credits for this song.  The French Leonard Cohen Site notes, “… as it can be read in Anna Prucnal’s LP “Avec Amour”, the actual credit is

    Original: La complainte du Partisan
    paroles: Emmanuel d’Astier de la Vigerie also undernamed “Bernard”
    musique: Anna Marly

    Leonard ‘s cover: The (song of the French) Partisan
    paroles: E. d’Astier de la Vigerie, adaptation Hy Zaret
    musique: Anna Marly
    Ed. Raoul Breton.” []

  2. Diamonds in the Mine []

Photo: Leonard Cohen at Sebel Town House, Sydney – May 20. 1985


This photo of Leonard Cohen was taken during his plaid shirt and cowboy boots fashion phase by Anton Cermak,

“Leonard Cohen Displayed That Knife-edge Walk Between Melancholy And Hilarity” 1985 L.A. Concert Review

June 9, 1985 Leonard Cohen Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles Concert Review

Most of  the review of the June 9, 1985 Leonard Cohen Wiltern Theatre (Los Angeles) show by Ethlie Ann Vare in Billboard (June 29, 1985) appears to have been composed by the boilerplate phrases that one assumes is given to all reporters assigned to Cohen Concerts. For example, “Cohen is first and foremost a poet.”  Moreover, he uses “his usual self-depreciating tone” when speaking to the “reverential crowd.” And there is the appearance of the always popular “Cohen hasn’t toured America in [fill in the number – 10 in this case] years.” There are, however, some noteworthy sections.

Leonard Cohen On His Songs

The description Cohen gives his own songs, for example, doesn’t seem to be found elsewhere online and certainly seems worth memorializing. His songs, he told  the audience, are

The kind of songs you sing when you don’t feel like singing

Leonard Cohen On Leonard Cohen

While not recorded in this review, it was also at this concert that Cohen described himself as

... an old veteran of the rainbows, rambling on in his invisible trench.1

From the same source, ((Various Positions by Ira Nadel. University of Texas Press. 2007 edition)) we learn

Dressed in black and playing a black acoustic guitar, Cohen sang new compositions like “Dance Me to the End of Love,” and a rollicking “Diamonds in the Mine.” Afterwards, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Al Kooper visited him backstage to congratulate him.

Leonard Cohen On Guilt

The other quotation recorded by Ms Vare is thoughtful and poignant (it also appears elsewhere in slightly altered form):

Guilt has gotten a lot of bad press lately.  Guilt is the only way we know we’ve done something wrong.

This is a rephrasing of his introduction to “The Law” the previous night, June 8th, 1985, in San Francisco:

It’s [The Law is] about our current dismal catastrophe. It’s about the Age of post-guilt. Guilt has been given a very bad name. There are entire medical industries that are devoted to describing guilt as a disease. Actually it’s the only way that we know that we’ve done something wrong.2

At the December 4, 1988 Mannheim concert, he worded it

Yes, guilt is a very under-estimated emotion. It has a lot of bad press today, guilt has. Actually, it is the only way we know when we’re doing a wrong thing. 3

And Ethlie Ann Vare Scores

I’m also going to give the author credit for her rendering of Cohen as “the black-clad troubadour of the minor key” and her hyperbolic observation, “You can’t really sing along [with Cohen’s songs] (hell, he can’t really sing along) … .”

And A Final Word About Record Labels

The phrase “Cohen’s new Passport album” used in the review refers  to Various Positions, the album that Cohen’s label Columbia Records refused to release  in the US. (Yep, this is when Walter Yetnikoff, president of the company, called him to his office in New York and said, “Look, Leonard; we know you’re great, but we don’t know if you’re any good.”) Various Positions was subsequently picked up by the independent label Passport Records. The album was finally included in the catalog in 1990 when Columbia released the Cohen discography on compact disc.

Credit Due Department: The photo of the Wiltern Theatre was taken by Carol M. Highsmith, who has stipulated it part of public domain. It was found at Wikipedia.

Note: Originally posted Apr 19, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Various Positions by Ira Nadel. University of Texas Press. 2007 edition []
  2. Found at Leonard Cohen Prologues – The Law []
  3. Found at Leonard Cohen Prologues – The Law []

Unpublished Photos: 1985 Leonard Cohen Salle Pleyel Concert, Paris

Dominique BOILE offers these previously unpublished photos he took at the first show of the Feb 23, 1985 Leonard Cohen Salle Pleyel Concert in Paris. While the shots are, as Dominique describes them, imperfect, the relative rarity of Leonard Cohen photos  from this era and the sentiment Dominique attaches to them renders these a treat to view.